The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day was “Press for Progress”, it called on all people and organisations around the world to take bold concrete steps towards gender parity in all aspects of life.
In business, women are more likely to succeed when they have access to good quality education and development, and when they are familiar with inspiring role models. The process starts earlier than applying for a job or setting up a business.
Perceptions of roles and careers must change and women have to see that they can succeed in a particular field, or at least won’t fail or be held back because they are women. International Women’s Day aims to be the vehicle to drive towards better education and training for women and showcase successful women and how they can be emulated.
Economic benefit of gender balance
Research shows that companies with good gender balance, are more likely to have financial returns higher than the average for their industry. A McKinsey report suggests that global GDP could be increased by €10.9trn by 2025, simply by improving gender balance in the boardroom and on management teams.
Equalising the gender balance in business boosts economies and reduces the costs associated with the loss of female talent in the business world. Working to achieve fairness and equality is not just the right thing to do but it is economically beneficial. It is a nudge for companies to put more women on their boards which has been proven to lead to better financial performances.
More than two thirds of people living in poverty across the world are female, and according to VSO Ireland, an international development organisation, women only earn 10% of world income despite doing 66% of the world’s work and own only 1% of the world’s property.
Discrimination is most evident in Africa, Asia and the Pacific region, but it is also rife in Western countries where it takes the less obvious form of glass ceilings and passive resistance to equality.
Figures from Eurostat show Ireland as doing well, both in numbers of women in managerial positions, and in the gender pay gap compared to other EU states. Their recently published figures, show that women hold 43% of managerial positions in Ireland compared to a high of just over 50% in Latvia, (the only country where women managers are in the majority), and lows of only around 22% in Germany, Italy and Cyprus.
Our gender pay gap of 16% is better than the EU average of 23% and much better than the 34% of Italy and Hungary. Some of this pay gap is likely to be explained by the fact that there are more women than men in lower paid sectors, and also the fact that more men go for higher paid jobs shown by the higher number of men in managerial positions. Also, taking maternity leave may account for women earning less overall.
Although the world is making great strides toward equal opportunities for men and women, there is still a long way too go. It is important to grow this mindset from a young age and teach our children to celebrate their role models and always lead by example.